Why do first class passengers get to skip TSA lines?

Whenever I travel by plane I become furious at the different things we have to do in the name of security. The TSA has a hard job, to be sure, and they get a lot of criticism. That said, the ban on liquids and having to take our shoes off impact… Well, these arguments have been made before. I’ve always noticed the first class line that lets travelers with more expensive tickets skip to the head of the line. Usually when I notice this, I’m filled with a white rage that dissipates by the time I get where I’m going and I forget to look up why this is. Turns out that first class passengers get to skip the TSA line because…the TSA isn’t responsible for the TSA line, the airlines are. This is, obviously, bullshit. If the TSA wanted to dictate a policy in this regard they could. In any case, I guess it’s good to know the answer, even if it is just as infuriating as most of airport security.

The T.S.A., whenever it is called on the carpet (which is often) about the two-tiered system it countenances, responds with the same piece of casuistry. The rich are scanned the same way as everyone else, the T.S.A. insists, but the formation of the queues themselves is not our department. “That real estate in front of the checkpoint is owned by the airlines,” one spokeswoman told USA Today in 2006. (The law is not crystal clear. It gives supervisory responsibility for the entire airport to a T.S.A. “federal security director.”)

Why do first class passengers get to skip TSA lines?